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Teaching and Learning

A Resource for North Idaho College Faculty

"Fair Use" of Copyrighted Materials

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Fair use" protects educators and allows them to use copyrighted materials a bit more liberally in order to promote education. Generally, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and "transformative" purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work (Richard Stim, Stanford University Libraries). Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. "Fair Use" is based on a combination of 4 factors:

  1. Purpose and character of the use (teaching is more likely to be seen as "fair use" as opposed to a use of copyrighted materials for commercial purposes)
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work (avoid substantial excerpts from highly creative works, such as novels, poetry, short stories, etc., as well as "consumable" materials such as test forms and workbook pages mean't to be purchased)
  3. Amount of the work being used (less is better: a single book chapter, an article from a journal... many guidelines suggest 10% or less of a work should be used)
  4. Market effect (does copying harm the market or sale of the copyrighted material?)